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It would be nice to have benefits to getting stung.

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Beekeepers who tolerate bee stings are not protected against SARS-CoV-2 infections

• Among German beekeepers, we found two coronavirus-associated deaths and 45 cases of coronavirus infection.
• Previous exposure to bee venom does not seem to reduce susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2.
• Reaction to bee stings correlates with the perceived severity of the SARS-CoV-2 symptoms: exhaustion and sore throat.

A survey on 5115 beekeepers and 121 patients treated with bee venom by an apitherapy clinic in the Hubei province, the epicenter of COVID-19 in China, reported that none of the beekeepers developed symptoms associated with COVID-19, the new and devastating pandemic. The hypothesis that immunity to bee venom could have a preventive effect was expressed and the authors of the Chinese survey suggested that the next step should be animal experiments on monkeys.

We believed that before starting such studies, a second independent survey should verify the findings and define the hypothesis more clearly. Thus we asked all German beekeepers to complete an assessment form which would summarize their experiences with COVID-19. In contrast to the Chinese study we found that two beekeepers had died from a SARS-CoV-2 infection and forty-five were affected. The reaction to bee stings (none; mild swelling; severe swelling) correlated with the perceived severity of the SARS-CoV-2-infection-associated symptoms - exhaustion and sore throat. Beekeepers comorbidity correlated with problems with breathing at rest, fever, and diarrhea.

Our results did not confirm the findings of the Chinese study. However, since the antiviral effects of bee venom have been found in several studies, we cannot exclude that there could be a direct preventive or alleviating effect when bee venom is administered during the infection.

Beekeepers who tolerate bee stings are not protected against SARS-CoV-2 infections, Heidrun Männle, Jutta Hübner, Karsten Münstedt, Toxicon, Volume 187, November 2020, Pages 279-284,
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